I sit in Zurich airport. It’s 10pm. My plane is delayed, my smartphone’s battery is dead, I finished my book and need to wait another 2 hours for my plane. I watch the people around me and my mind falls back in one of its favorite activities: judging others…
If there is one thing that I have observed my mind doing systematically, it’s judging. Either positive or negative, but it’s still judging.
Especially in airports, conferences, shopping malls, restaurants and meetings, my thoughts seem to be mostly a variation of: “I like this. I don’t like that. This person should do this. That person shouldn’t do that. Look at him. That’s not a right or conscious thing to do. She must be unhappy. That’s not very mindful…etc.
I realized that in a lot of situations, this judging mind shuts down my ability to learn and connect with others. On a bodily level, it also doesn’t feel that good. It creates a separation between me and the other person. It feels like the opposite of connection.
I learned a simple mindfulness practice that almost magically prevents all of these judgments to arise. It goes like this:
“I wish others to be happy, healthy and successful.”
Even one of the 3 options is often enough.
The moment I see others, whether they are strangers, colleagues, friends or even people with different world views I try to start by wishing them to be happy, healthy and successful.
– When I wait for 5 minutes at that endless red traffic light, I look around and wish those people waiting with me to be happy, healthy and successful;
– When I need to wait in line at the supermarket;
– When I walk through the airport;
– When I walk through the Business Class section in airplanes (or vice-versa);
– When I see a person that I don’t agree with (still working on this one!);
– When I coach one of my clients;
– When I see people that are better at something that I am still learning;
The goal of the practice is not to stay passive. It’s to ensure that the action I take comes from a state of expansion, not contraction. And to be honest the practice itself:
1. Feels remarkably good when I do it. Try it at your next traffic jam.
2. Helps me remember that the world has space for all of us to be successful, so it reduces my jealousy and comparison;
3. Opens up my mind and heart when engaging in a conversation with that person, even when it’s a difficult conversation to have.
It helped me take much more skillful and firm action with people I normally would have trouble with.
The part I still struggle with most? To wish myself the same on a regular basis. I am still trying to find the balance between letting go of self and taking care of self. But that’s a topic for a next blog…
Wishing you a wonderful non-judgment day.
Consultant at the Asian Leadership Institute Consultancy